Adding Links in Blogger for Popular Aggregation and Bookmark Sites

To make it easy for readers to add a blog post from here to link aggregation and bookmarking sites, I’m adding buttons to the Blogger template for each service. To do this on your own Blogger blog, do the following:

  1. Log into Blogger
  2. Click on the Layout tab, then Edit HTML
  3. Select “Expand Widget Templates”
  4. Find the following block of XML (your template may be slightly different)
    <div class='post-body entry-content'>
    <p><data:post.body/></p>
    <div style='clear:both;'/> <!-- clear for photos floats -->
    </div>
  5. Add the following div block immediately after it
    <div style='float:right; margin-left:10px;'>
    <!-- Add button links here -->
    </div>
  6. Add the HTML for any of the sites listed below to the inside of the div block, replacing the line “Add button links here”

    Blinklist

    <a expr:href='"http://blinklist.com/index.php?Action=Blink/addblink.php&url="
    + data:post.url + "&Title=" + data:post.title'>Blinklist</a>

    Del.icio.us

    <a expr:href='"http://del.icio.us/post?url=" + data:post.url + "&title="
    + data:post.title'>Del.icio.us</a>

    Digg

    <a expr:href='"http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url="
    + data:post.url'>Digg</a>

    Furl

    <a expr:href='"http://furl.net/storeIt.jsp?t=" + data:post.title
    + "&u=" + data:post.url'>Furl</a>

    Reddit

    <a expr:href='"http://reddit.com/submit?url=" + data:post.url
    + "&title=" + data:post.title'>reddit</a>

    Technorati

    <a expr:href='"http://technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?url="
    + data:post.url'>Technorati</a>
  7. Preview the template and, if it looks OK, save it

The icons for each service can be used in place of the link text if desired. Since I don’t want to hot link the images from each service’s site directly, I’m attaching them to this post and referencing them locally (i.e., from Blogger’s server).
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Strange Spot on Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP-HC LCD Monitor

My Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP-HC widescreen LCD monitor arrived the other day. Dell currently has it on sale for $569 (regularly $669). That’s a pretty good price considering that this monitor has picture-in-picture (PIP), picture-by-picture (PBP), portrait and landscape orientations, a four-port USB hub, five-format memory card reader, wide-gamut LCD panel and inputs for VGA, DVI, component, S-video and composite video.

The Samsung SyncMaster 245BW, by comparison, is only $100 less but has none of these extra features and only offers VGA and DVI inputs. However, the Samsung included both VGA and DVI cables, whereas Dell only included a VGA cable with their more expensive monitor. Weird.

Anyway, when I got the monitor set up, I checked it out for dead pixels and/or stuck pixels. Near the lower-right corner of the screen, I noticed a dark spot. Upon taking a closer look, it appeared to be larger than a single pixel and gray in color, not black (stuck off), white (stuck on), or any particular color (sub-pixel stuck). Just to be sure, I ran Dead Pixel Buddy to check what kind of dead pixel it might be. Well, it still didn’t seem like a stuck pixel because with any background color I tried, the spot was just a darker shade of it.

One more close-up look at the spot yielded an unusual feeling that the spot wasn’t in the same plane as the LCD pixels. My eyes felt as though they were shifting focus to see the spot. Then, I noticed that if I moved my head to the side, the spot would move relative to the image being displayed. You can see this behavior in the two photos below taken at different angles relative to the front of the screen.

In this first photo, you can see a gray dot above the red arrow and inside the on-screen button. This is taken at about a 45-degree angle to the left of perpendicular. (Note: In real life, the spot is sharper and more apparent than in the photo.)

In this next photo, the camera is about five degrees to the right of perpendicular. Notice how the spot has now moved to the right and appears to be on the right of the on-screen button.

So, what is this mysterious spot? The good news is that it isn’t a dead pixel or cluster of dead pixels. All I can figure at this point is that it’s a speck of dirt or some other contaminant that got caught inside the panel during manufacturing.

A couple of years ago, Moazam blogged that his Dell 2005FPW was collecting dust inside and that he rapped on the side of the screen with his knuckles to dislodge it. I tried that but to no avail. Oh, well. At least it’s near the bottom corner of the screen where it’s not too distracting. If the backlight burns out before I upgrade, I may try removing the spot when installing a new backlight.

Top Three Grammar Pet Peeves

User-generated content is a wonderful thing. However, it does unearth a plethora of bad grammar. Even worse, poor grammar is showing up in trusted sources such as the news. I remember when English teachers would strongly recommend reading the newspaper on a regular basis to improve your grammar and writing. Sigh.

Following are three of the most common grammar errors that I see and hear. They make the top of my list because they should not happen on such a regular basis and their prevalence forces me to occasionally stop and think about whether or not they’re actually incorrect. Oh, the horror!

In the spirit of code re-use, I’m not going to rewrite what has already been written but link to resources instead.

3. Less or fewer
Can they be counted or not?

2. It’s versus its
This is a general problem of differentiating between possessives and contractions.

1. Me, myself and I
Stop using “myself” in place of “me”. It doesn’t sound more proper. It’s simply incorrect!

Why not a top-ten list? Because that’s too many to remember. Three is enough. Let’s get these fixed first.

Restore the Original Smilies for Pidgin

Do you use the Pidgin instant messaging client (formerly known as Gaim)? If so, don’t you wish you could get back all the old smilies, especially the plethora of animated ones for Yahoo! Messenger (YIM)? Well, you can!

Thanks to Bobby Voicu’s post, How to Use Yahoo and MSN Smilies in Pidgin, I downloaded and installed the Original Yahoo & MSN Emoticons 4 Pidgin from Gnome-Look.org and they’re all in there! After downloading, simply open the Preferences dialog in Pidgin, click on the Smilie Themes tab and drag-and-drop the file into the list. Ah, so nice!

Blogger, LiveJournal or WordPress?

Although not new to writing (I’ve edited, contributed to, co-authored, etc. several published books on hardware, software and multimedia in my days), I am new to blogging. So, how did I choose Blogger as my platform? I actually like the features, flexibility, extensibility and control that’s available by hosting my own installation of WordPress, but the following are the main reasons that I started with Blogger:

  1. It’s easy to get started: Like LiveJournal and WordPress.com, Blogger is a service so I can just focus on what I want to write, rather than having to worry about the IT issues of running my own installation of blogging software such as WordPress. [Three-way tie]
  2. It’s free: Yeah, LiveJournal and WordPress (both the hosted WordPress.com and downloaded WordPress) can be used for free although some features cost extra. [Three-way tie, sort of]
  3. I can use my own domain: This is important so that if I choose to use a different blogging solution later with my domain, everyone will still be able to find my blog and all existing links to my posts will still work. LiveJournal and WordPress.com only allow use of a custom domain if you choose one of their paid subscriptions. Blogger includes this feature for free. Alternatively, you can install the WordPress software on your own server and use your own domain but that requires a web host (i.e., more cost and more things to take care of). [Blogger wins]
  4. I can have AdSense ads: Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but it would be nice to generate some income to help pay to have my blog on my own hosted site. With LiveJournal and WordPress.com, this just isn’t an option. [Blogger wins]
  5. Post URLs are SEO-friendly: For better search engine positioning, including words from the post title in the URL is helpful. LiveJournal’s pages use numbered filenames (e.g. exampleblog.livejournal.com/12345.html). [Blogger & WordPress tie]

Thus, from these five criteria, Blogger is ahead by two. Those of you who are more experienced may point out other features that would swing the results differently and I may encounter them as well over time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Different people have different needs. Blogger fulfills my key requirements at this time. Later, my needs will likely change as will the available choices. For now, Blogger leaves me flexibility of choice for when the time for a change arrives.

Happy blogging!

Bear